Perfectionism is the illusion by which we believe there is some level of achievement we can supposedly get to that will be the end all be all of success and that if we reach this imaginary point somehow we will be happy or our lives will finally be fulfilled. The truth is though that this place does not exist and it can’t exist because our existence itself is infinite and ever-expanding. To believe that we can reach a finite point or cap of the evolution of anything would be like believing we could somehow stifle the expansion of the cosmos. We can’t do it.
Sure we set certain standards and goals and then perfectly meet those standards and goals. For example man gave the sport of gymnastics a scoring system of 1-10 and so whenever anyone reaches or receives the score of a 10 they call it a perfect 10. This is just one example of a man-made limit. If the scoring numbers were infinite though every year you would see the scores continue to rise to a perfect 11 and a perfect 12 and so on.
Every year we see amazing world records being broken and we think we have witnessed the limits of man. But then that new record gets broken the following year, and then that record gets broken the year after that, and so on….So if in reality we are limitless then what is this obsession with perfection which is a self-imposed limit and a ceiling for achievement in the physical world? Does this obsession with perfection propel us forward or more often does it hold us back from experiencing the joy and peace that are available to us in the present moment?
There are goals as a mother that I strive for that I know deep down in the core of my being, are really unnecessary and even unrealistic. Keeping a perfect house for example when there are two small children whose daily mission is apparently to unravel it as quickly as possible, is an illusion that I and many mothers desperately chase and because it is an impossible feat we find that at times it can eat away at our joy and peace.
The problem stems from non-acceptance. We have been programmed our whole lives to want more, strive for more, get more, do more, and no one has taught us to accept our reality just as it is, right here, and right now in the present moment. We buy into this illusion that more of something is surely the answer to all of our sorrows and discomforts. So it is no surprise that we go our whole lives always reaching for more and never realizing that in every moment we have everything we need to be in perfect harmony with ourselves and the universe.
The pressure we put on ourselves to look a certain way and to tie that physical appearance in with how we feel can genuinely take away or subtract quality time in our lives when we could be fully present and joyous. It’s a common theme, in America especially to equate looking good with feeling good. That is why you hear people say “you want to look and feel your best”. But what are we really talking about? Is the joy we experience when we feel like we look good so much better than the joy we experience when we feel like we don’t look good? Or is it our perception that others are judging us that takes away our peace? I know when I am in my house and wearing my pajamas without having done my hair and make-up that I am perfectly joyful but if you forced me to go to the grocery store looking like that…. Not so much. I know I would not be present and engaged because I would feel paranoid about how I was being perceived.
So I guess what I am trying to get at is who are we striving to be perfect for? Is it for us? Is it for our families, who should love us unconditionally anyway? Or is it for people that we don’t really even know? Why do we look for approval outside of ourselves? In the end we only have to answer to ourselves. When we are in our final moments of our lives and we look back to take into account all the things that brought us joy and sorrow, will we even remember some of the little nuances that destroyed our inner peace momentarily?
I personally don’t believe I will ever look back and regret that my kids’ rooms weren’t cleaner, or that my kitchen table wasn’t wiped down better. I don’t think I will regret that I didn’t break some world record or win some race. But you know what I do think I will regret? I will regret the little moments that I let the illusion of perfection steal away my peace and joy. I think in the grand scheme of things when I look back on all the moments that I strived for perfection in my life and was discontented in the process, I will see that the only thing I could have done to attain perfection in each of those moments would have been to realize that I had the ability to accept those moments as being perfect already. Perfect for me, perfect for my life, perfect for that moment in time, and then through that realization I would have been given the perfect gift: Perfect joy and perfect peace.
Affirmation: Today I will try to see things differently. I will try to see the toys scattered across the floor as a beautiful reminder that I am blessed with children. I will try to see my messy kitchen as a reminder that we are a blessed and well fed family. I will try to see the difference between the things that are important that I will remember later and the things that are insignificant in the grand scheme of life. Instead of letting the little things take away my joy and peace I will use them as reminders of all the things I have to be grateful for right here, right now, in this perfect moment of my life.